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An Australian court on Feb. 26, 2019 has found the former top advisor to Pope Francis and the Vatican treasurer, 77-year-old Cardinal George Pell, guilty on five charges of child sex abuse he committed against two 13-year-old boys over two decades ago, while he was an archbishop.
Pell is the most senior Catholic figure in the world who has been found guilty of child sexual abuse.
A jury found Cardinal Pell guilty of five charges on Dec. 11, 2018, in the Country Court of Victoria, after a four-week trial. The charges were permitted to be released to the public now.
The charges included sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 16 and performing oral sex on a choirboy 22 years ago at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. One of the victims died in 2014.
Each offense he was charged with carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. Pell’s lawyers have filed an appeal. If successful there could be a retrial.
The Vatican said in Dec. 2018 that Pope Francis expelled Pell from his group of close advisors, the de facto cabinet.
In 2016, Pell took an indefinite hiatus from his position as the economy minister, which is considered the third most important position in the Vatican to spend his time fighting the sex abuse charges.
Pell was released after posting a bond. His sentencing hearing will be held on Feb. 27. At that time, Judge Peter Kidd is expected to revoke his bail.
Pope Francis last week convened a Vatican summit to discuss the growing problem of clerical sexual abuse within the church. The summit did not put into policy new measures to halt the issue or state priests would be punished for molesting young children. The church said they will now work on drawing up new guidelines to punish abusers and anybody who does not report this type of behavior.
Written by Barbara Sobel
The Washington Post: Australian Cardinal George Pell convicted of sexually assaulting two choirboys
BBC: George Pell: Cardinal found guilty of sexual offenses in Australia
Newsweek: CARDINAL GEORGE PELL CHILD ABUSE CONVICTION SHOWS CATHOLIC CHURCH ‘IS INCAPABLE OF CHANGE FROM WITHIN’
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Jeffrey Bruno’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License